PANAMA CITY, Fla. —
Despite COVID-19 limitations and planning challenges caused by Hurricanes Laura and Marco, a collaborative team prevailed in conducting a live Advanced Naval Technology Exercise (ANTX).
Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) recently collaborated with Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command (CNMOC) in coordination with the Naval Oceanographic Office’s Fleet Survey Team (FST), and Klein Marine to conduct the testing at NSWC PCD.
The government and industry teams overcame potential setbacks by implementing safety protocols, maintaining a flexible schedule, and keeping a can-do attitude. With participants coming from across the country, one team travelling over 40 hours by vehicle, to both Gulfport, Miss., and Panama City, Fla., this synergy led to successes that far outweighed the struggle.
“The ANTX 20 vignette highlighted technology that is important to the Navy in maintaining a warfighting edge,” said Capt. Micah Weltmer, CNMOC ANTX director.
“The main benefits of ANTX are two-fold, the government gains first-hand interaction with emerging technology and the innovation providers gain warfighter feedback and insight on how to better work with government,” said Todd Holland, director, mine warfare prototyping at NSWC PCD. “Our team here at Panama City Division, including our test directors, test engineers, range managers, and public affairs personnel did a great job of responding to various challenges while hosting an outstanding ANTX event in collaboration with Klein Marine Systems.”
Collaborating on tests of this nature further strengthens the strategic collaboration between the two commands on the Gulf Coast. For the test event, NSWC PCD provided test documentation, test personnel, a support craft, and rigging support for Klein Marine Systems’ Multi-Angle X-Pattern Side Scan Sonar (SSS) system. The system was towed by an Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV), Seafloor Systems’ HydroCat-180. In addition, FST provided skilled personnel with useful insights towards the operational utility of these technologies.
“Naval Oceanography must be an early adopter of new technology to stay ahead of the competition,” said Weltmer. “Conducting vignette-based demonstrations like the ones developed for ANTX helps us identify areas where current technology, much like Klein’s, could be incorporated as an improvement to our existing capability, and a venue to provide direct operator feedback to our industry partners on directions to further advance their technical solutions for operational use.”
For FST and other Navy commands, the new technology should reduce time on station for hydrographic surveys, due to improved data quality and an increase in SSS coverage by 40 percent. An Ultra-Short Baseline attached to the USV enables highly accurate navigation data on a towed SSS, allowing for precise positions of any hazards to navigation detected, strengthening the protection of naval assets.
“We continue to look for opportunities to support the warfighter in collaboration with our Gulf Coast regional partner CNMOC,” said Dr. Peter Adair, technical director at NSWC PCD. “This is another great example where we are able to collaborate and leverage our facilities and resources to support their mission during this ANTX event.”
Klein’s algorithms for data transmission allowed an increase in the amount of data able to be streamed to the base station in real-time at an efficient data rate, enhancing the radio connection to the USV and improving identification of hazards to navigation. Seafloor Systems demonstrated advanced autonomy behaviors and a well-designed launch and recovery system. These technologies provide potential cost-saving solutions for the U.S. Navy while expanding sonar-based sensing capabilities for use in related efforts at NSWC PCD.
“It is critical for the naval research and development establishment to develop and deploy a culture of agility and innovation,” said Holland. “One way of doing that is to create ‘low barrier of entry’ events like ANTX, to support the warfighter through exposure to the newest technologies and prototypes developed outside of traditional military pathways. This venue connects industry, academia, Warfare Center personnel, and warfighters in an innovation environment where technology’s ‘push’ meets Navy’s ‘pull’.”